Critical Tasks – “Ambi-Importance”

If you’ve spent any amount of time reading the latest gun magazines (…paid advertisements), online blogs, or attended any tactical training in the last decade or so, you’ve no doubt heard the terms: off-hand, weak hand, support hand, or non-dominant hand. Generally when we consider them in a fighting environment, we primarily relate them to firearms first, and maybe combatives second. For the latter, the term “weak side” might be more prevalent. Regardless, they all generally mean the same thing: it’s that hand that you don’t primarily write or shoot with. For me, I’m a righty who’s right eye dominant, so my “weak side” or hand is my left side.

In the frame work of firearms and combatives, being ambidextrous is often considered a gold standard to achieve. Ideally, we would train to the standard that anything we could do from our strong side we could do equally as well from our weak side. Shooting unsupported, reloading, weapon manipulations, and various strikes, holds, and submissions would all be equally as easy and natural to do from both sides of the body. But the reality is very few of us can actually do that. I sure can’t. It would take an immense amount of training and repetition to actually achieve this, and frankly, the there may be a significant amount of opportunity cost to actually achieve true ambidexterity.

So if we recognize that we might not ever achieve true ambidexterity, but we still train certain combative tasks to some certain degree of success, then what else do we need to know about using our weak sides? Well… quite a bit actually. Today let’s take a look at a few tasks, outside of the combatives realm, that might require us to use our off hand for whatever reason – and that you may have not yet considered.


Medical Treatment 

There’s a million and one reasons that you might have to render self aid or buddy aid without the use of your primary hand. Perhaps you’ve been injured or you’re using your primary hand to apply pressure or hold gauze. Maybe you’re just using your stronger side to hold the patient down who is panicking and flailing around. Whatever the reason, you need to have the ability to conduct at least basic trauma interventions with only your off hand. At the very minimum, I would suggest you be comfortable using your off hand for applying tourniquets, wound packing, applying direct pressure, manually clearing an airway, and maybe even applying self-adhesive chest seals.

cat

With that in mind, I’d strongly recommend the CAT Gen 7 Tourniquet from North American Rescue. Consider that a direct endorsement. They’re a bit bulkier than the SOFTT-W, but it’s much easier to apply with one hand. The CAT tends to stick to clothing or skin better for whatever reason, whereas the SOFTT-W likes to spin around the limb a little more. Both are TCCC “certified” but my preference goes to the CAT. Take that to the bank.


Driving 

When was the last time you practiced driving your vehicle while using only your off hand/arm? I’ll be honest, I hadn’t even considered this until just recently I had to drive my truck for a very brief period of time with only my left hand.

columnshiftercentershifter.jpeg

If you take a look above, the first picture is a pretty typical representation of a column mounter shifter, where as the second picture is representative of my F-150’s interior – a center mounted “sport” shifter.

The column shifter is much easier to use when having to drive with only one hand, because it doesn’t force you to cross your entire body to get the vehicle into drive. And under more serious circumstances, the ability to move or stop quickly might be life and death if you’re already one hand down.


Comms

Have you ever been holding your kid (or pint of beer) in your primary hand and had to answer your phone with your other hand? If you don’t take the split second to think about it, you’ll probably frustrate yourself by either entering the wrong password or pressing the wrong buttons.

Under more severe circumstances, you might lock your phone with you really need to be getting that 9-1-1 call made. Sure, there’s an emergency call button, but make sure you know how to access that with both hands as well.

If you’re running a PTT radio or similar communications set up, make sure you can release channels, scan, and select channels/groups using only your weak hand, wherever that comms is attached to your body. Uh oh… can’t reach it? Guess you’re going to have to make some adjustments.


So as you can see, in different contexts, off hand skills apply to more than just shooting or punching. Hell, they could really apply to just about anything. Make sure that that as you go through your day you’re giving the use of your weak side some consideration – your life might depend on it.

Until Victory.

-Z

Rags and Rattle Cans – How to Camo Up

Well, I finally took the plunge. I’d thought about it for months, maybe years here and there, but just never had the actual courage to do it: I finally painted some of my own guns.

Now, for many of you who do this all the time, painting your own weapons with spray paint is probably no big deal. Rattle canned guns are Instagram famous, and “operators” around the world have been doing it since ‘Nam… and earlier. But for me, the proposition of spray painting several thousand dollars worth of equipment with $8.00 worth of Home Depot spray paint was a little daunting. But I finally gave in to practicality. Black rifles stick out, appropriately camouflaged weapons don’t.

I researched high and low, watched hours worth of various “how to” videos on YouTube and probably started to develop chronic high blood pressure trying to figure out the best way to spray paint my blaster. So I thought I’d take a quick minute and share with you what worked for me. Fortunately for both of us, it’s not rocket science.


To start off, you’ll need some quality paint. Although any spray paint will wear pretty quickly on a firearm, that’s fine – you can always reapply it later. It’s not really a protective finish so much as a cosmetic thing, but a quality paint will adhere a little better and stick around a little longer than the off brand special. I used Krylon and Rust-Oleum paints from their “camouflage” line. It’s a flat matte that doesn’t reflect light, important qualities for a camo paint job.

You’ll also need a quality painter’s tape and some 550 cord. The tape you’ll use to mask off whatever you don’t want painted like optics lenses and the magazine well, so make sure you get a tape that adheres well and creates a good seal. The 550 cord is good for hanging the actual weapon up to paint it. The use of the cord isn’t necessary, but it helps keep the weapon from contacting anything else during the process and smudging the paint.

Nice, but not necessary – a cheap, “portable closet”. The kind that’s just PVC piping and cloth surrounded by a few zippers. It works really well as a paint station to contain everything if you paint in doors.

paint1


  1. Start by degreasing your rifle. I just wiped down the exterior of the rifle with an old rag and some mineral spirits. You could also use gun scrubber or break cleaner I suppose, but mineral spirits work and it’s cheap.
  2. Tape off areas that you don’t want covered in tape. I removed all optics, lights, sights, and any foregrips from the rifles and painted them separately. I did this to get maximum paint coverage on the guns in the even I change optics or something, I’m not left with a bare black spot on the rail. I also mask off the muzzle device since I frequently use a suppressor, and a tape up the trigger as well – it keeps the trigger group cleaner and less gritty if you don’t blow paint up into it through the lower receiver’s trigger cut.
  3. Spray – get creative. Use a pattern that makes sense for where you are – if you live in the Arctic Circle, it probably doesn’t make sense to use a woodland pattern, and if you live in a temperate climate, you probably don’t need a dusty, desert looking patter. As a general rule, if you plan on using a base coat, I’d start with the lighter color first. That way if the darker colors wear down over top, you can always reapply darker pain that wont mix over the lighter paint underneath. I started with a tan base coat on one rifle, and alternating brown and OD green coats on the other rifle. paint3
  4. Drink beers while you wait for the base coat to dry.
  5. Using native foliage or in my case, an old laundry bag from boot camp, lay a creative “micro” pattern over your primary colors. I used opposite colors on opposite base coats: browns on greens, greens on browns, etc.  Hold the foliage or netting approx. 4″ off the rifle and spray to create a disruptive, “three dimensional” pattern. The netting gives a sort of snake-skin texture… sexy. paint2
  6. Enjoy your rifle and finish your beers. Just don’t go fire it after consuming beers. You know… guns and alcohol don’t mix.

Is a minor note, if you plan on painting some plastic, it might help to “rough up” the surface before you prepare it. The same techniques can be used to made your plain jane black Safariland holster look dope! paint4

That’s it, enjoy! Give it a shot. Maybe practice on a piece of old cardboard first (I’ll admit I did), and find a pattern you like. I found that the lighter base resulted in a more “intermediate” color scheme and the alternating green and brown base created a darker, more “woodland” look. I dig it.

Until Victory.

-TZ